Persistence: The fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. -Oxford Dictionary
The act of continuing on in spite of difficulty or opposition. Some people would call that foolishness. Why keep at something that is not working out? Others see it not as a reason to stop, but as a reason to keep at it. Many of our most cherished accomplishments come from our persistence to keep going. Here are a few keys things to remember as you look to increase or strengthen your own persistence.
Find your fire (motivation)
What is your motivation? What is the why behind your goals or what you want to accomplish? You may have to ask yourself that question a couple of times to get to the true root of your motivation. An example would be that I want to get a new job. Why? Because I don’t have an opportunity to grow my career. Why do I want to grow my career? Because I don’t like to simply maintain the status quo. Why? Because I find value in the challenge and love building new things.
We had to go three deep to determine the motivation, but we found that it wasn’t as simple as a motivation to get a new job. That person is driven by the need to build and be challenged. Knowing your true motivator will help you on your journey to reach their goal. Make sure your fire is hot, bright and you are highly motivated and focused to meet the goal.
Stay in a positive mindset
It’s important to keep a positive mindset in the face of adversity and setbacks. It’s a guarantee that it is going to rain on your fire. Someone will try to snuff out your fire either inadvertently or on purpose. l. We’ve talked before about overcoming your mental obstacles. (Passing the Baton Episode 109) Those tips will help you during this time.
Find ways to keep yourself motivated and in a positive frame of mind. Some people write themselves encouraging notes and leave them up around the house and car. Others journal about the positive things that happened to them that day. My family is doing a project where we write out something that we enjoyed about the week and we put it in a large jar. At the end of the year, we plan to take everything out and reflect on the great things that happened this year.
Set up your accountability
Set your goals and share them others. It’s a way that I have found to hold myself accountable to reaching my own goals. I was on the fence about pursuing a certification in talent development. It was expensive, nearly all self-guided at that point, and a majority of people don’t pass it the first round. I was in a leadership meeting where we were asked to share a goal for ourselves for the year. I stood up claimed the certification as my goal and then that was it. I was fully in then! Letting my peers know kept me accountable to reach my goal. After many hours of studying and practice, I received my certification on the first pass 6 months later.
Accept the criticism and failures along the way
Take criticism and learn from it instead of dismissing it or letting it drag you down. I try to look at everything that doesn’t go like I had planned for or hope and try to find the lesson to be learned. Sometimes it was a lesson on how I could improve myself and other times it was a lesson to not repeat the mistakes of others. You are going to have haters and naysayers and that’s actually an ok thing. When you are surrounded only by those that agree with you and love you, you won’t be challenged to keep improving.
Find your motivation. Stay positive in the face of adversity and learn along the way. Your persistence can help you achieve goals that you thought weren’t possible.
We usually have the best intentions with people. We want them to change their behavior for the betterment of themselves and others. We give advice, offer solutions and blatantly point out shortcomings in our effort to get people to change. We then get frustrated when the change doesn’t occur! In our quest to help someone, we actually damage the relationship.
What not to do.
Here are some tactics that people typically utilize when they try to change behavior that just don’t work.
1. Shaming. You drag someone over to the problem/issue and let them have it. It’s similar to what many people do when their dog goes to the bathroom in their house. It certainly makes the person feel bad about themselves but does nothing to inspire them to permanently change.
2. Pleading. A common tactic in parenting. “Will you please just do your homework? I would be so happy if you would clean up your mess in the living room.”
3. Threatening. Used at home and at work by poor leaders. “If you don’t get your project in on time I’m going to fire you. Keep showing up late and watch what happens.”
4. Incentivizing. Used in both home and work environments. “If you do that, I will give you this.” The problem is that the behavior change is temporary and will likely slip back into old habits once the thing you give them goes away.
5. Helpful. This one will actually work from time to time but is not a guaranteed solution. This most often comes across as our advice to a person. “When I struggled to make it to school on time, I started setting an alarm and setting my clothes out the night before. I started getting my projects in on time when I started to use a calendar system to help me stay on track of my tasks.”
Sometimes the person makes the connection and will change, but don’t be frustrated when they continue in their old habits.
Do these things instead.
Changing behavior is possible and not as hard as people imagine as long as they keep on the proper framework.
1. Build their confidence. Start off acknowledging and praising their behavior and contributions.
Home: “Thank you for cleaning up your toys in the living room. You did a great job and your mom is going to be so happy when she comes home. I’m going to brag about you to her!”
Work: “I can tell you really put some thought and time into this project. It’s obvious that you care about it and your team.”
2. Make it a team effort. Present the change in a way that you will partner together to accomplish and not one that you are handing out for them to tackle alone.
Home: “Did you see how much your mom loved that you cleaned the living room? We are going clean up so that she comes home to a clean room every day. We’ll do it together.”
Work: “We’ll work together on the next project to make sure that it is really polished and ready to present in the meeting. Janet is great at editing and can help us as well.”
3. Track the progress. Give the person something tangible to work on so that they know if they are making progress or not.
Home: “Our goal is going to be to clean up every weekday before mom comes home.”
Work: “Our goal is to have no errors slip through to the final presentation and that you feel confident on the day of the presentation.”
4. Give them the tools needed to be successful. They will be successful when you give them the tools and the process to reach the change.
Home: “I’m going to get us a bigger toy box so that we can get everything off the floor nice and neat. Do you want to go with me to the store to help pick one out?”
Work: “Send your project over to Janet to proofread for you. She will help smooth out grammatical and layout items, and then you and I can run the presentation together to help build your confidence before the meeting.”
Evaluate how you are doing in your communication. No one’s perfect. How often are you trying to change behavior in a way that is not impactful? Follow the right path to see people grow out of their bad habits.
You never know if you’re really humble, but you can know if you do humble things. -Erwin McManus
Leaders are great at making plans. Think about yourself and the leaders you know. They usually are working off some kind of goal, plan or vision. You likely have a plan on what you want to do after you graduate, what your dream job is or where you want to be where you retire. Buying a house, starting a family, preparing those children for a good future….lots of plans. What about our character?
We have a tendency to let our little Jiminy Cricket guide us as we make decisions. Our character is something that we use daily in decision making, but also something that we rarely take time to actually develop.
Humility in a practical sense
Humility can be tough to pinpoint, that is one reason why you don’t hear about many humility training courses out in the world. Who wants to take a class on humility anyway? Probably not many. There are some practical pieces to work on and consider with humility.
A willingness to let go of power.
An admiration of humble people.
A desire to learn and be taught by others.
Truly accepting and celebrating other people’s victories.
The ability to give up the personal spotlight in order for the team to meet a goal.
Spend time preparing
Set some time aside periodically to invest in your heart and the whys that drive you as both a person and a leader. This doesn’t mean you have to go off in solitude every month. (But maybe a trip every now and then would help.) It could be that you volunteer for those less fortunate, you may go to a class to learn a hard or soft skill that you haven’t mastered. Do something that’s 100% about others and not yourself. It’s a very rewarding experience.
Spotting narcissism and the key traits
The opposite of humility is narcissism. This is a person that is very self-focused as they navigate life.
They have a high need for praise because their world needs to be about them.
They often have an opinion that there is no one in the world that can do something better then they can.
A narcissist also typically avoids these behaviors:
They fail to ask for help because they believe that a problem can’t be solved if they aren’t the ones to answer the problem.
They shy away from risks because it violates their sense of self.
They struggle to accept failure because the failure was someone else’s fault in their mind.
Fight the narcissistic behaviors that can grow in yourself over time. Humility is not a sense that you are nothing. Humility is the sense that the world is not about you, but what you can offer to the world.
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well” -Martin Luther King
I love that quote from Martin Luther King. Often leadership profiles define calling as “Seeing the significance of the work. Has a burning desire for the leadership position.” I remember feeling that calling in my 2nd year as a part-time team member. It was a very specific call to work to become a manager and then fix and turnaround stores. The funny part was that the first store I was asked to lead was a brand new store. It wouldn’t be until later on where I got to fully live out that calling. Today my calling is to invest in and develop others. Here are a couple of self-check questions about your calling.
Are you doing what you are called to do?
It’s a simple question, but it really is a gut check if you take it to heart. If this is not your calling, then I would suggest moving as quickly as possible to the area that is. When you aren’t where you are called to be, you hurt the organization you work for. They don’t get the most effective person for their needs. The person suffers because they will never fully enjoy their job. When someone communicates to me that where they are is not their calling, I do everything I can to get them there. I’ve written recommendation letters, helped people find a job in a different field and been references for interviews. If you have someone on your team that is not where they need to be; do what you can to help get them there.
A lack of calling costs the employee and the company.
A lack of calling to your profession can lead to disengagement in your job. Studies say that disengagement costs a company 30% of a person’s salary due to the loss of efficiency. You can easily do the math and see how much you are costing your organization to sit in a seat that you probably don’t want to be in. On the other hand, people who feel that they are called to be in the job that they hold have a much higher efficiency rate, job satisfaction score and a larger sense of worth.
Are you leading like it’s your calling?
So you say that what you do is your calling. Do you lead that way? Do you lead in such a passionate and inspiring way that it’s obvious that this is what you’ve been called to do? If you answer yes, then you are in a good place and you should work on expanding your knowledge so that you can lead even better where you are. If you answered no, then you need to make some changes to get yourself motivated again. Seek councilors or mentors outside the workplace. Study what others are doing. Read a good leadership book. Take some time off. Do what you need to do to reconnect. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself unmotivated and your calling will slip right through your fingers.
Sometimes you aren’t in the specific place you are called to be, but you are working on it. That’s ok, just be the best where you are and keep working towards that goal. Being where you are called to be makes all the difference in your life and the people’s lives that you serve.
We all would love to lose some weight, be more fit, have some extra financial security and have some time to enjoy life more, but our habits often get in our way to meeting our goals. Freeing yourself from your habits can be tough. I know that several of mine have held me back at times. They can be conquered and there is victory to be had when you know how to tackle it. Our goal is going to be identifying them and replacing them with a more productive habit.
Where to start?
The first thing that you need to do is to get your eyes on the habits. It’s one thing to think of them, it’s a different thing to see them visually laid out in front of you. Write down every bad habit you have and how long you have been doing it. Take your time and be honest with yourself. For example:
Procrastinating – 8 years
Not contributing to 401K – 3 years
Eating too much junk food – 15 years
Smoking/drinking – 2 years
No physical activity/outlet – 10 years.
Now that you have these written down, list the impact that these things have had on your life. How much money did you lose, time with loved ones, opportunities missed or held yourself back? For example:
Eating too much junk food – 15 years.
Gained 28 pounds during that time.
Used over 20 sick days the last 4 years.
Seeing the habit as well as the cost can be a great motivator for true change.
Identify the triggers and replace them.
Now that you know the things that are holding you back, you need to take it a step further and find the triggers. One of my personal habits is snacking on a bunch of junk food after 4pm. The trigger was that I was bored and used to the food to fill that space. Once you find the trigger, replace it with a positive activity. In my example, I gave myself a cutoff time to eat food and I allowed myself only one snack instead of grazing.
Take the journey to success.
Remember that your change is truly a journey and not a switch that you flip. Here are some things to remember along the way.
Focus on small, incremental changes.
Set times and smaller goals to hit on the way to your ultimate goal.
Track your progress and celebrate the journey.
Hang in there and don’t get discouraged with slow growth.
Remember a couple of things. First, that no one is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you stumble some on the way. Pick yourself back up and keep moving forward. Second, remember that true behavior change takes 66 repetitions to change the pathways in our brain. Don’t give up if you are only 12 reps in!
Find those habits that hold you back, replace them with a positive and begin to see your success and happiness increase.
It can be difficult to promote yourself and there is surely a little bit of an art to it. Try too hard and you show yourself as self-centered. Fail to try at all and you’ll be in the same spot you are 10 years from now. It’s possible to promote yourself and your leadership style if you take the right approach.
Someone that is inauthentic is either easy to spot, or their true behavior eventually comes to light. The ability to show that you care and that you actually mean it is a great way to promote yourself and your leadership style. Be genuine in your interactions with others. Be authentic in your communication. Show real interest in other people’s conversations.
Be prepared when being authentic. The people that are not true to themselves may try to call you out to others and accuse you of being fake. Know that this is either their own insecurity, an attempt to leverage a relationship based on poor emotional intelligence, or they are downright unethical in their personal leadership. Hold true to the fact that authenticity will win the day.
Put others needs above your own
It may seem a little backwards to give up a sense of self in order to promote yourself, but it works. Put people’s wants and needs above your own to be successful. Instead of hoarding your talent and requiring credit for the what you do, give it away freely to those that need help; especially those that can’t offer you large career gains in return.
This strategy adds credibility to others that you are authentic and gives you a chance for some good knowledge exchange with the other person. This has been a valuable resource for my personal leadership. A person I help may not be the exact one to help me take another step in my career, but they may teach me something that they do that helps me become a better leader.
Promote yourself through replication
It’s one thing to say that you added $1 million in revenue from your clients. It’s quite another to say that you developed 5 other people to do the same. Invest and develop others and then they will become part of your body of work. These people will also become great advocates for you in your career journey. This approach is another differentiator because less mature leaders are trying to build their own personal profile and don’t understand the payoff of investing the time in others.
When you replicate your success and standards, make sure that you are investing in the right way, and don’t have blinders on to the person’s ability and capacity. They are a reflection of you after all, and you want them to represent you well.
Promote yourself the right way by building a network of people behind and beside you that are your advocates. Show your leaders you are authentic and that you add more value than the salary that you are currently earning. Your co-workers, organization, and bank account will be thankful that you did.